The modern gentleman knows more about the world than what he sees around him, or what he's experienced.

That means the modern gentleman reads books — he collects knowledge. And he doesn't stop at the classics — he's also caught up with today's greatest literary works.

We've put together a list of 'modern classic' books published after 1980 that examine society, politics, and love in the modern world.

So go ahead, take a look at some of the greatest literature published in your lifetime.

'The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay' by Michael Chabon

Two cousins team up in the golden age of comic books, in post-WWII New York. The 'magical realism' novel is exciting, fast, and turns its titular characters into heroes themselves.

You can buy the book here.

'Money' by Martin Amis

'Money' is told from the point of view of the hedonistic drunkard, John Self. He eats too much, spends too much, drinks too much, and watches too much porn — no self-discipline, no moderation.

You can buy the book here.

'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' by Milan Kundera

If you didn't get enough Nietzsche and Kierkegaard in Philosophy 101, this book is for you. Milan Kundera marinates the tale of two 'Prague Spring' era couples in deep philosophical questions. 

You can buy the book here.

'The House on Mango Street' by Sandra Cisneros

The protagonist, Esperanza, belongs to an impoverished Latino neighborhood in Chicago and is determined to get out. She narrates the novel in vignettes — sometimes talking about observations, sometimes throwing in rhymes. 

You can buy the book here.

'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' by Mark Haddon

The novel is narrated by 15-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone, who describes himself as 'a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties.' At one point or another, everyone has felt like an outsider — and so this book is endlessly relatable to anyone who sees the world in their own way.

You can buy the book here.

'Beloved' by Toni Morrison

'Beloved' is arguably Toni Morrison's greatest novel — it dives deeply into the hideous void of slavery. Morrison tells the tale of Sethe and her daughter Denver, and their life post-escaping from slavery.

You can buy the book here.

'The Things They Carried' by Tim O'Brien

'The Things They Carried' is a captivating short story collection of American soldiers in Vietnam. War and memory are the main themes, but O'Brien also shows that storytelling can be a mode of redemption.

You can buy the book here.

'American Psycho' by Bret Easton Ellis

Trendy, handsome twenty-something financier Patrick Bateman moonlights as a serial killer. What's particularly creepy is how Bateman's lifestyle is mirrored by the book's finely-controlled language.

You can buy the book here.

'The Ice Storm' by Rick Moody

The loss of innocence story is as old as time — and yet Moody makes it fresh with a '70s spin. Rick Moody examines the American middle class with a bit of humor over the backdrop of the Watergate scandal and the 'sexual revolution.'

You can buy the book here.

'Infinite Jest' by David Foster Wallace

A funny book about a truly dysfunctional family. The book tackles why Americans do what they do in their free time, and what that says about who we are.

You can buy the book here.

'Fight Club' and 'Invisible Monsters' by Chuck Palahniuk

The first rule of Fight Club: 'You don't talk about the fight club.' Palahniuk tackles masculinity in the modern era — so it's definitely worth the read, even if you're already seen the Brad Pitt movie.

In 'Invisible Monsters' a beautiful, successful model is horribly disfigured and rendered an unwanted 'monster' who is incapable of speaking. It's the story of re-creating and making something of yourself when no one else even acknowledges your existence.

You can buy 'Fight Club' here and 'Invisible Monsters' here.

'Freedom' by Jonathan Franzen

There's two sides to every coin — and Franzen shows that there's an ugly side to freedom. 

You can buy the book here.

'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini

It's the story of a wealthy boy and his servant, set against the backdrop of the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy via the Soviet Union's intervention, and the rise of the Taliban regime. Everything's in there: redemption, friendship, guilt, and father-son relationships.

You can buy the book here.

'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy

A nameless father and his son journey across unknown post-apocalyptic land, trying to get to the sea. They're carrying a revolver with two bullets — and if they get caught by the cannibals, they will shoot themselves.

You can buy the book here.

'The World According to Garp' by John Irving

So, this one's actually published in 1978 — but that's the only exception.

“Nothing in contemporary fiction matches it. . . . Irving’s blend of gravity and play is unique, audacious, almost blasphemous. . . . Brilliant, funny, and consistently wise; a work of vast talent," writes The New Republic.

You can buy the book here.

'Disgrace' by J. M. Coetzee

In 'Disgrace,' a fifty-something professor has an affair with a student — which leaves him a jobless outcast. The only person who takes him in is his daughter, and the two attempt to relate to one another in post-Apartheid Africa.

You can buy the book here.

'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' by Junot Diaz

"This is the only book I will ever recommend to people," one reader said.

You can buy the book here.

'Ender's Game' by Orson Scott Card

No great book list is completely without a science fiction pick. 'Ender's Game' will keep you on the edge of your chair for the duration of the entire novel. And then the end will completely blow your mind. (We recommend going for the sequel, 'Speaker for the Dead' afterwards.)

You can buy the book here.

Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe's classic story of class and politics in 1980s New York City — you know 'The Warriors' NYC when subways were tagged and crime was rampant.

Wolfe tells the story of Wall Street banker Sherman McCoy. He has everything — perfect wife, gorgeous mistress, money, friends — until a car crash in the Bronx drags him and the entire city into a nasty saga that destroys his entire existance.

Buy the book here.

'The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined' by Steven Pinker

Pinker's non-fiction text argues that we're living in the most peaceful moment of human existence — and that the world is getting 'better' despite all the horrors we see daily on media. Agree or disagree, you should read this.

You can buy the book here.

'Innovator's Dilemma' by Clay M. Christensen

If you're in the business of 'disrupting' industries, we think you should actually read the book. Havard Business School 'Legend' Clay Christensen is always worth the read.

You can buy the book here.

'White Teeth' by Zadie Smith

'White Teeth' is the story of Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal and English Archie Jones' friendship. The book tackles themes of immigration, race, and heritage in 20th century London.

You can buy the book here.

'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel

Piscine 'Pi' Patel spends 227 days on a lifeboat with a tiger after a shipwreck. And if we're being completely honest, the movie doesn't do it justice.

You can buy the book here.

'Kafka on the Shore' by Haruki Murakami

The even chapters tell the tale of a teenage boy, Kafka, who runs away from home in order to escape an Oedipal curse. The odd chapters are about Nakata, an elderly man who suffers from a World War II affliction that affects his memory. And then their paths converge.

You can buy the book here.

'A Visit from the Good Squad' by Jennifer Egan

As life goes on, people find themselves in unexpected places — for better or for worse. Jennifer Egan shows the self-destructive and changing lives of Bennie Salazar, an old rock music exec, his former assistant,  and other.

You can buy the book here.

'Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72' by Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson — half gonzo journalist, half offbeat hedonist — gives a scorching account of the 1972 presidential election. (Yup, that's with Richard Nixon.)

You can buy the book here.

'Motherless Brooklyn' by Jonathan Lethem

'Motherless Brooklyn' is a detective set in (surprise, surprise) Brooklyn, whose hero — Essog — has Tourette's syndrome.

However, "solving crime is beside the point" in this novel. "If you're a mystery maven, this might bother you. Instead, this is a novel about the mysteries of consciousness, the dualism Essog alludes to when he talks about his 'Tourette's brain' as if it were an entity apart from him," according to the New York Times.

You can get the book here.

'2666' by Roberto Bolaño

Violence, death, and 900 pages. Bolaño's text explores an apocalyptic 20th century, and particularly the breakdown of relationships and careers.

With this book, "Bolaño has joined the immortals," the Washington Post declared.

You can buy the book here.


In 'Americanah', two young Nigerians — Ifemelu and Obinze — fall in love, but must leave their country because it's under military dictatorship. One ends up in the US, while the other in London — and they explore their statuses in Nigerian, US, and UK societies.

You can buy the book here.

And let's go a little further back in time. Check out

39 Classic Books Every Modern Gentleman Needs To Read>

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